If you're tired of the extra baggage around your hips, yoga asanas, or poses, can help. But not by whittling away fat -- exercise like yoga burns calories and tones muscle, but it does not remove extra padding from specific areas. The good news is that by eating right and incorporating yoga into a regular exercise routine, you can safely lose a pound or two a week, creating a slimmer body and smaller hips. If you haven't exercised in ages, see your doctor before you lay down the yoga mat.
Yoga and Weight
As awesome as it would be to score slimmer hips from a few yoga sessions, no asanas can accomplish this. Instead, asanas can rev up your calorie burn by building lean muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism becomes and the more calories you burn at rest. During your session, you will also burn extra calories. The number depends on the style you practice, but Hatha yoga typically melts about 150 calories per 30 minutes for a 155-pound woman. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn.
To tone and shape your hips, incorporate asanas that work your hip flexors and gluteal muscles. Although you need to exercise all muscle groups for good posture, include some proven hip-sculptors into your routine such as Full Boat Pose, Eagle Pose, Extended Triangle Pose and Revolved Triangle Pose.
Yoga asanas do far more than just help you trim down -- they make you stronger and more flexible, leading to better coordination. Increased range of motion also means you'll be a better athlete in other sports and activities. Yoga also reduces stress by stealing your attention from your everyday woes and forcing you to focus on your body and spirit. If you suffer high blood pressure or have a fast heart rate, yoga may help (though it isn't a cure). The increased self-awareness may also encourage you to eat healthier, further assisting in weight loss.
As amazing as yoga is for well-being, it can be downright harmful if you are not careful. See your doctor if you have hypertension, osteoporosis or heart problems, and only take yoga classes from a qualified instructor. Start with a beginner class if you're a yoga rookie, and don't overextend yourself to achieve any asanas. Listen to your body, and halt if you feel any pain or become dizzy. Don't eat a large meal just before your session, but do bring along a water bottle.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.